Sunday, 28 August 2016

Where's Sassy?

Sass loves to hide.

She likes to pop out and scare me!!

Or just stay quiet until I can find her.

Here's a selection of some of her favourites...

She is in there. This is a fave - it's my cupboard and she likes to sneak in when I'm in the shower for maximum fright effect.

Her cupboard.

On the chairs when they're pushed in under the table - hard to spot if you're not crouching on the floor!

Under our bed.

Behind a towel.

In the shower - often not noticed until you spot her in the mirror!

And perhaps my favourite because I could NOT find her for so long... can you spot her?

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Parenting Tips

So I've been continually parenting for more than 23 years, I've been a Cub Scout leader and had hordes of kids grace our home - but there's still loads to be learnt.

A couple of great tips have come from my daughters' school. I guess they've had more experience than most - but they're just so good I need to share.

The first is 'I feel sick'. As we all know, it can be hard to diagnose a genuine 'I feel sick' from an 'I don't want to do what I'm meant to be doing/about to do.' The school nurse has nailed it; a nice big glass of antacid that she insists is drunk while fizzing.


If you've not had the experience, trust me, it's hideous! If you really are sick, it may in fact make you feel a lot better (after a big burp!). If you're not, it's so revolting you may indeed, genuinely feel sick for a bit. But it's a sure fire way to sort the wheat from the chaff!! And if you were pretending to be sick, chances are you won't be trying that one again any time soon.

She also has a good stock of lozenges - not the sweet, buttery, delicious ones – more your eye-watering, breath-taking, eucalyptus ones. So you'd really want a proper sore throat before asking for one of those.

Tough love kids!

The other tip follows outdoor education. When the girls are all back on the bus for the long trip home, being very noisy and loud, talking, laughing, carrying on - apparently the driver simply turns the heater up to the max and guaranteed they'll all be asleep within minutes! (Don't ever do this if you're tired....that'd be dangerous.)

So there you go - always new tips to learn - even for this old dog!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Big Clean Out

The Australian Government is so generous. You turn 50 and you're immediately gifted a poo-testing kit and, if you're female, a mammogram as well. No card. Just a letter and a kit.

And once you're on the kit register, they just keep coming.... although you do have to fork out $35 to participate, which I think is a small price to pay to have some poor sucker test your poo and have the peace of mind that everything is running tickety-boo.

Being the eternal optimist and reminding the kids regularly that 'we don't do drama', I wasn't fazed when the GP left me a cheery message to say my poo-test was positive and he was booking me in for colonoscopy. (Know now, BTW, that my optimism was warranted - I won't wait to the end to say that!)

I know heaps of peeps who've been through this, so I suppose it was just my turn.

The lead up is not fun.

Two days prior, you can pretty much eat chicken and white rice.

I also had a call from the admissions person from the hospital who ran through all the usual questions of my medical history. When I asked what time I could be picked up from the hospital, she said it would depend on how I was feeling. Violated? I proffered... she did laugh. (I actually stole that from Geoff's brother who's also been through this.)

One day prior, after a couple of slices of white bread toast, you get to eat NOTHING!!! I am not good at not eating. I love food. And on the evening prior, you get to drink the 'preparation.'

I had purchased the sachets of powder at the chemist and even the girl behind the counter couldn't help make gags like Don't make any plans after you've taken this!!

I drank all three sachets at the hourly intervals as instructed and a couple of hours after that - O...M...G!!!

Geoff's tip was track pants and no undies. I went with the first and not the second.

The response is urgent and liquid and the risk of sharting (a fart where you 'follow through'... you can work it out...) immense.

I fell into bed about 11, only to be woken by severe stomach cramps about 1am. Again, I poised myself on the loo. By this stage I was dehydrated beyond belief (you were supposed to drink water between sachets but they made me feel so sick I didn't) and in grave danger of passing out. It was freezing but I was sweating and clammy. Death was looking attractive. I was in so much pain I started weeping - I hadn't felt this wretched since giving birth. I couldn't even stand up to reach a towel or the bathmat to lie on the floor I was so weak. On and on it went....

Sometime later, I floated out of the bathroom, a mere shadow of my former self, and collapsed into bed.

The alarm went off early. I was due at the hospital at 7.15. The actual process and procedure were fine as you're under a general anaesthetic so one minute you're chatting and a moment later you're being woken up in recovery.

I mentioned to the doctor my violent reaction to the preparation product. That doesn't sound right, he said, next time, try the orange flavoured one.

That's next year so I'll let you know if that helps. I can hardly wait!

Kaffir lime brûlée with papaya salad

This is actually easy. I've tried a few recipes and have adapted them to make this one.

It makes about 10 largish ramekins.

For the brûlée, you need:
2 x 400ml cans coconut cream
400ml thickened cream

4 kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemon grass
1 piece fresh ginger - about 10 cm

Chop all of the above and chuck it in a pot with the creams. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Allow to infuse for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, separate 14 eggs - yep! - 14! Pop the egg whites in a clearly marked container in the freezer to make pavlova another time.

Add 2/3 of a cup of caster sugar to the yolks and beat until pale, thick and creamy. It takes a while and should form 'ribbons' when it's done.
Gradually add the strained cream mixture, smooshing it with a wooden spoon to get as much flavour from the additives in the sieve as you can. 

Pour into ramekins and pop in a deep baking tray. Add boiling water to about half way up the ramekins or the tray - whichever's safer! - and cover with foil.

Cook at 170C for 30 minutes. They do shrink a bit. Im my case, they shrank quite a bit because I whacked the air out of them by being less than gentle when I added the cream, but it's also the density of the coconut cream.
While they're cooking, peel a whole red papaya and cube. Zest the rind of two limes and blanch quickly with boiling water (takes the bitterness out). Squeeze the juice of the limes over the papaya, toss, cover and refrigerate.
In a heavy pan, toast the coconut flakes - keep an eye on them and toss regularly - it's a fine line between toasted and cremated!! Set aside.
Let brûlées cool for 30 minutes and the pop in the fridge for at least 4 hours - or overnight.
I used coconut sugar for the topping - just sprinkle it on thickly and hit it with a blow torch )or pop it under the grill). It was very dark - looked burnt  in fact - but actually tasted great! I tried one with regular caster sugar  (front of the line in the bottom pic) and that one stayed more golden if you prefer. 

To serve, pop a brûlée on an ironwood board (or a plate) and a pile of the lime-drenched papaya on the other end. Garnish salad with blanched lime zest strips and toasted coconut. 

I really like these - which is why I've persisted. They do taste a bit like a sweet green chicken curry - but without the chicken!!

Happy cooking.

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...